Vertical Flight Expo & Conference announcements

vertical flight and expo

At the recent Vertical Flight Expo & Conference in Farnborough, UK, plenty of suppliers to the global helicopter rescue and air medical sector were demonstrating their wares. Below are a few highlights of various company announcements that took place during the conference.

SEI Industries demonstrated its new Bambi Bucket; which is now used in more than 115 countries around the world by more than 1,000 helicopter operators. President Mark Tayler explained that one of the latest innovations that has been made to the bucket includes a pilot-controlled release valve at the bottom of the bucket for situations where the helicopter needs to dump ‘some of the water’ in order to improve its vertical lift performance.

Thales has introduced a new Head Worn Display & Targeting Mission Kit specifically designed for Law Enforcement and Fire/Rescue missions. Intuitive augmented reality using intelligent symbology delivers positional data directly into the crew’s natural field of vision. The helmet can bring a 3D external world to the flight crew through projection of identified targets onto the head-worn monocular display. Key positions and locations of air and ground assets are immediately identifiable by augmented reality symbology presented directly into the user’s view, speeding up response times of the crew. Light and comfortable kit components easily attach to the helmet or via a simple head band and everything is easily stored in a crew flight bag. The helmet can be ready to use within two minutes from start-up, making it ideal for rescue missions.

Tech-Tool Plastics produces a range of replacement windows for Bell, Airbus Helicopters, MD Helicopters, Robinson and Schweizer. On display at the Tech-Tool Plastics booth were replacement windows for the AS350 and EC135.

By far the most unusual exhibit at this year's Vertical Flight Expo & Conference, although only in scale model form, was the Neoptera eOpter, an electric VTOL (eVTOL) solution for sustainable future air transportation. The extraordinary tail-sitter will be able to carry up to five passengers or a 500kg payload. The eOpter converts to a winged aircraft with a single, non-safety critical moving part. Arnaud Didey, founder and CEO, pointed out that traditional helicopter operations are increasingly being curtailed due to noise within urban environments, and single-engined helicopters are banned from flying over most European cities due to safety concerns. eVTOL and the eOpter promise to solve these barriers of noise, safety and reduce operational costs with electric aircraft that are quieter, safer, cheaper to buy and operate.

Robert Garbett, chief executive for Drone Major, gave an in-depth discussion on the different threat levels that drones now present to aircraft operators. The phrase 'danger drones' was raised where a possible scenario could be where a drone is landed on top of a financial institute and the systems hacked, with the drone acting as a conduit. Garbett views drone operators in three categories:

1) New Owners who are unlikely to know of the new legislation coming into effect.

2) Those seeking to increase their social media profile by using the drones to create online views.

3) The criminal network who are using drones to impact airport operations or deliver illegal items to prisons etc.